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Alcee Hastings on Budget & Economy

Democratic Representative (FL-23)


Voted NO on prioritizing spending in case debt limit is reached.

Congressional Summary:Requires the Secretary of the Treasury, in addition to any other authority provided by law, to issue obligations to pay with legal tender, and solely for the purpose of paying, the principal and interest on U.S. obligations held by the public, or held by the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and Disability Insurance Trust Fund, in the event that the federal debt reaches the statutory limit after enactment of this Act. Prohibits the issued obligations from being taken into account in applying the current $16.394 trillion public debt limit to the extent that they would otherwise cause such limit to be exceeded.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:Rep. MAFFEI: The American people want us to work together--Republicans and Democrats--to reduce our debt, pay our bills, and avoid an economic catastrophe, which would result from default. This legislation presumes it will happen and maps out not if but what happens when the United States defaults. Their plan ensures that foreign creditors such as China, Japan, and OPEC countries Iran and Saudi Arabia would continue to get paid while we halt other payments to groups of Americans who have earned those benefits. This bill prioritizes Chinese lenders ahead of American seniors and veterans and college students. That's why it's called the Pay China First Act.

White House statement in opposition:American families do not get to choose which bills to pay and which ones not to pay, and the United States Congress cannot either without putting the nation into default for the first time in its history. This bill would threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, cost American jobs, hurt businesses of all sizes and do damage to the economy. It would cause the nation to default on payments for Medicare, veterans, national security and many other critical priorities. This legislation is unwise, unworkable, and unacceptably risky."

Reference: Full Faith and Credit Act; Bill H R 807 ; vote number 13-HV807 on May 9, 2013

Voted NO on terminating the Home Affordable mortgage Program.

Congressional Summary: Amends the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 to terminate providing new mortgage modification assistance under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), except with respect to existing obligations on behalf of homeowners already extended an offer to participate in the program.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Biggert, R-IL]: The HAMP Termination Act would put an end to the poster child for failed Federal foreclosure programs. The program has languished for 2 years, hurt hundreds of thousands of homeowners, and must come to an end. This bill would save $1.4 billion over 10 years. To date, the HAMP program has already consumed $840 million of the more than $30 billion of TARP funds that were set aside for the program. For this extraordinary investment, the administration predicted that 3 to 4 million homeowners would receive help. HAMP has hurt more homeowners than it has helped. The program has completed about 540,000 mortgage modifications. Another 740,000 unlucky homeowners had their modifications cancelled.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Capuano, D-MA]: This is a program that I'm the first to admit has not lived up to what our hopes were. This program we had hoped would help several million people. Thus far we've only helped about 550,000 people. But to simply repeal all of these programs is to walk away from individual homeowners, walk away from neighborhoods. I'm not going to defend every single aspect of this program, and I am happy to work with anyone to make it better, to help more people to keep their homes, & keep their families together. To simply walk away without offering an alternative means we don't care; this Congress doesn't care if you lose your home, period. Now, I understand if that makes me a bleeding-heart liberal according to some people, so be it.

Reference: The HAMP Termination Act; Bill H.839 ; vote number 11-HV198 on Mar 29, 2011

Voted YES on $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

Reference: Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment; Bill H.R. 3357 ; vote number 2009-H659 on Jul 29, 2009

Voted YES on modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures.

Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

Reference: Helping Families Save Their Homes Act; Bill HR1106&S896 ; vote number 2009-H104 on Mar 5, 2009

Voted YES on additional $825 billion for economic recovery package.

Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

Reference: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act; Bill H.R.1 ; vote number 2009-H046 on Jan 28, 2009

Voted YES on monitoring TARP funds to ensure more mortgage relief.

Congressional Summary:Requires specified depository institutions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to report periodically on their use of TARP assistance. Requires federal banking regulatory agencies to examine annually the use of TARP funds made by the deposit institutions.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): Last year, after we responded to the urgent pleas of the Bush administration to authorize the $700 billion deployment of Federal funds to unstick the credit markets, many of us became very unhappy, [because Bush] repudiated commitments to use a significant part of the fund to diminish foreclosures. If we do not pass this bill today, we will make no progress in what is the single biggest economic problem we've been facing, namely, the foreclosure crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): There has been a lot of money spent to try to bail out the financial industry, and nothing seems to be working. I think it's mainly because we haven't admitted that excessive spending can cause financial problems, & excessive debt and inflation can cause problems.

Actually, the recession is therapy for all of the mistakes, but the mistakes come, basically, from a Federal Reserve system that's causing too many people to make mistakes. Interest rates are lower than they should be, so they don't save. That contributes to what we call "moral hazard" as well as the system of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac system. With the assumption that we're all going to be bailed out, people say, "Well, no sweat because, if there is a mistake, the government will come to our rescue." A private FDIC would never permit this massive malinvestment. There would be regulations done in the marketplace, and there would not be this distortion that we've ended up with.

Reference: TARP Reform and Accountability Act; Bill H.R.384 ; vote number 2009-H026 on Jan 21, 2009

Voted YES on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy.

Congressional Summary:
    Supplemental appropriations for:
  1. Infrastructure Investments: Transportation: DOT, FAA, AMTRAK, and FTA
  2. Clean Water (EPA)
  3. Flood Control and Water Resources (ACE)
  4. 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities (ED)
  5. Energy Development (DOE)
  6. Extension of Unemployment Compensation and Job Training
  7. Temporary Increase in Medicaid Matching Rate
  8. Temporary Increase in Food Assistance

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.

It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.

Reference: Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act; Bill S.3604&HR7110 ; vote number 2008-H660 on Sep 26, 2008

Voted YES on defining "energy emergency" on federal gas prices.

Congressional Summary:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. WATERS: This bill preserves public housing. The administration eliminated the one-for-one replacement requirement in 1996, effectively triggering a national sloughing off of our Nation's public housing inventory. Housing authorities have consistently built back fewer units than they have torn down and, as a result, over 30,000 units have been lost. I urge you to support our Nation's low-income families and to preserve our housing stock.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HENSARLING: President Reagan once said that the nearest thing to eternal life on Earth is a Federal program, and I don't think there is any better case study than perhaps the HOPE VI program. If there was ever a program that cried out for termination, it's this one.

This program began in 1992 with a very noble purpose of taking 86,000 units of severely distressed public housing and replacing them, demolishing them. Well, it achieved its mission. But somewhere along the line we had this thing in Washington known as mission creep.

We already have 80-plus Federal housing programs, and the budget for Federal housing programs has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from $15.4 billion to more than $30 billion now. So it's very hard to argue that somehow Federal housing programs have been shortchanged.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 271-130

Reference: HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.3524 ; vote number 08-HR3524 on Jan 17, 2008

Voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry.

H.R.3915: To reform consumer mortgage practices and provide accountability for such practices, to establish licensing and registration requirements for residential mortgage originators. Prohibits certain creditor practices with respect to high-cost mortgages, including:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. FRANK: This legislation seeks to prevent a repetition of events that caused one of the most serious financial crises in recent times. We have a worldwide problem economically, with a terrible shortage of credit. Innovations in the mortgage industry, in themselves good and useful, but conducted in such a completely unregulated manner as to have led to this crisis. The fundamental principle of the bill is not to put remedies into place, but to stop future problems from occurring in the first place. We have had two groups of mortgage originators: banks subject to the regulation of the bank regulators; and then mortgage loans made by brokers who were subject to no regulation. The secondary market has been on the whole useful but, having been unregulated, has caused some problems.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. HENSARLING: This is a bad bill for homeowners in America. There is no doubt that this Nation faces a great challenge in the subprime market, but this piece of legislation is going to make the situation worse. Clearly, there has to be enforcement against fraud in the subprime market. But what Congress should not do is essentially outlaw the American Dream for many struggling families who may be of low income, who may have checkered credit pasts, for whom a subprime mortgage is the only means to purchase a home.

Reference: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act; Bill HR3915 ; vote number 2007-1118 on Nov 15, 2007

Get minorities into home ownership & global marketplace.

Hastings wrote the CBC principles:

Source: Congressional Black Caucus press release 01-CBC10 on Jan 6, 2001

Increase debt limit from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion.

Hastings signed America Pays Its Bills Act

A bill to increase the debt limit from $14.3 trillion to $16.7 trillion.

[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com "Debt Ceiling Crisis"]:

The US debt-ceiling crisis was a financial crisis in 2011 that started as a debate in the Congress about increasing the debt ceiling. The immediate crisis ended when a complex deal was reached that raised the debt ceiling and reduced future government spending. However, similar debates are anticipated for the 2012 and 2013 budget. President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner announced on July 31 that an agreement had been achieved. After the legislation was passed by both the House and Senate, President Obama signed the Budget Control Act. On August 5, the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's downgraded the credit rating of US government bond for the first time in the country's history.

Under US law, an administration can spend only if it has sufficient funds to pay for it. These funds can come either from tax receipts or from borrowing. Congress has set a debt ceiling, beyond which Treasury cannot borrow. The Obama administration stated that, without this increase, the federal government would shut down and the US would enter sovereign default, thereby creating an international crisis in the financial markets. Alternatively, default could be averted if the government were to promptly reduce its other spending by about half.

An increase in the debt ceiling requires the approval of both houses of Congress. A large majority of Democratic legislators (who held a majority in the Senate) favored tax increases along with smaller spending cuts. Supporters of the Tea Party movement pushed their fellow Republicans to reject any agreement that failed to incorporate large and immediate spending cuts or a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

Source: HR2663&S1326 11-HR2663 on Jul 27, 2011

Establish a usury limit of 16% for consumer credit cards.

Hastings signed establishing usury limit of 16% for consumer credit cards

Section 107 of the Truth in Lending Act (15 U.S.C. 1606) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection, entitled "National Consumer Credit Usury Rate":

  1. LIMITATION ESTABLISHED--The annual percentage rate applicable to any extension of credit under, or any outstanding balance on, any credit card account under an open end consumer credit plan may not exceed 16 percent.
  2. INCLUSION OF CERTAIN FEES IN DETERMINING APR--In determining the annual percentage rate applicable to any credit card account, membership fees or annual fees shall be included in the finance charge [calculation].
  3. ADJUSTMENTS--the Board may make adjustments to the maximum annual percentage rate limitation when any such adjustment is in the public interest and economic conditions warrant. Any increase in the maximum annual percentage rate limitation [will be determined by] severe economic conditions, taking into account the prevailing bank prime rates, and statistical information the Board determines to be relevant.
    Source: National Consumer Credit Usury Rate (H.R.4300) 2009-H4300 on Dec 11, 2009

    Ban abusive credit practices & enhance consumer disclosure.

    Hastings signed Credit CARD Act

    Source: S.414 & H.R.627 2009-S414 on Feb 11, 2009

    2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Budget & Economy: Alcee Hastings on other issues:
    FL Gubernatorial:
    Charlie Crist
    Jeb Bush
    Rick Scott
    FL Senatorial:
    Bill Nelson
    Marco Rubio

    Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
    FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
    FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
    IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
    LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
    MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
    MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
    NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
    NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
    SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

    Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
    AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
    FL-13:David Jolly(R)
    FL-19: Pending Nov.4
    IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
    LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
    MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
    MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
    NC-12: Pending Jul.15
    NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
    SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
    Won primary 2014:
    TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
    VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

    Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
    AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
    CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
    GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
    GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
    GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
    HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
    IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
    LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
    MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
    MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
    OK-5: James Lankford(R)
    TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
    WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

    Former Reps running for House in 2014:
    AL-5: Parker Griffith(R)
    CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
    GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
    CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
    IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
    IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
    MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
    MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
    NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
    NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
    NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
    OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
    PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
    TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
    Lost primary 2014:
    TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
    VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)

    Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
    AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
    CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
    ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
    PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
    VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

    Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
    AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
    AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
    CA-11:George Miller(D)
    CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
    CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
    CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
    CA-45:John Campbell(R)
    IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
    MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
    MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
    MI-12:John Dingell(D)
    MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
    NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
    NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
    NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
    NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
    NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
    NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
    PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
    UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
    VA-8: James Moran(D)
    VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
    WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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    Page last updated: Jun 17, 2014